The Anglican Church in this region is alive and well and doing great work. It serves not only its faithful Christian community but also the community at large of every faith with its social outreach and support of schools , hospitals and clinics and youth and children and the elderly.
I am being hosted by the Parish of St. Philip’s Nablus which has two churches : The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rafidiya – a traditional Christian neighbourhood, and St. Philips Church, just on the edge of the old city. A few years ago when I first visited the Good Shepherd Church it looked like the picture on the left below. Due to rapid building and development in the area it now looks like the picture on the right.
The church of St. Philip is a beautiful old Palestinian style building
St. Philips also runs a daycare kindergarten and preschool for about 40 tiny tots and I have the privilege of sharing songs and play with them a few days a week. The children, who come from all faiths and the poorer neighborhoods in the city, have classrooms and facilities and a lovely big courtyard and play area – which shares a common wall with the Mosque
The priest in the Parish of St. Philip’s, Nablus is Father Ibrahim, and he and his family are generous hosts. He has given me the church hall as an office – the largest office I have ever had !
Father Ibrahim is also a Judge of the Church Court. Legal matters concerning marriages and divorce and wills and Inheritances are adjudicated by the religious courts in Palestine. This was customary in both Jewish and Islamic societies , so during the British Mandate Church Courts and clergy judges were set up in the main christian denominations. So from time to time Fr. Ibrahim has to don his wig and gown (ahem! -joke) and preside over important legal cases.
Father Ibrahim also has a clear and beautiful vision of a path to peace in the Holy land and I will say more about that in a future article.
The Diocese of Jerusalem
In talking about the Diocese of Jerusalem I can do no better than include the message from Archbishop Dawani from the diocesan website:
Welcome from Archbishop Suheil
Peace, Salaam, Shalom from The Parish of St. Philip Nablus Palestine and the Holy Land
Mel Nov 2016